A bit of online digging led me to realize that the active ingredient in Charlotte's Web Everyday Plus Hemp Oil, the product I'd been offered to test, was the chemical compound CBD, which stands for Cannabidiol. Unlike THC, the other crucial compound in hemp and marijuana plants, CBD does not produce the psychoactive effects that make you feel "high"; instead, it actually eases anxiety and makes you less likely to freak out.
Now 13, Jackson — whose diagnosis is undetermined — continues to use marijuana every day. (Like many patients, he ingests it in droplet form, which allows for more precise dosing and avoids lung problems.) He still has seizures, but they are less severe and they occur once every week or two, down from around 200 a month before he started using cannabis. He is back in school full time and is well enough to go on hikes and bike rides with his family.
^ Jump up to: a b Resstel LB, Tavares RF, Lisboa SF, Joca SR, Corrêa FM, Guimarães FS (January 2009). "5-HT1A receptors are involved in the cannabidiol-induced attenuation of behavioural and cardiovascular responses to acute restraint stress in rats". British Journal of Pharmacology. 156 (1): 181–8. doi:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2008.00046.x. PMC 2697769. PMID 19133999.
^ Harrison, G.; Hopper, K; Craig, T; Laska, E; Siegel, C; Wanderling, J; Dube, KC; Ganev, K; Giel, R; An Der Heiden, W; Holmberg, SK; Janca, A; Lee, PW; León, CA; Malhotra, S; Marsella, AJ; Nakane, Y; Sartorius, N; Shen, Y; Skoda, C; Thara, R; Tsirkin, SJ; Varma, VK; Walsh, D; Wiersma, D (2001). "Recovery from psychotic illness: A 15- and 25-year international follow-up study". The British Journal of Psychiatry. 178 (6): 506–17. doi:10.1192/bjp.178.6.506. PMID 11388966.
Another difference between marijuana and hemp is that hemp contains an enzyme that marijuana doesn’t, an enzyme responsible for the production of CBD. The beneficial properties of hemp-derived CBD are numerous and as it works with the human cannabinoid system is thought to have an impact on hundred’s of biological conditions including Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, ALS and diabetes. The list is growing continuously! CBD has awesome anti-inflammatory properties, helps relieve stress and anxiety, manages pain and even helps with sleep by battling insomnia.
Thirty minutes later, I was surprised by how subtle the effect was. While I expected a hazy nodding-off effect similar to melatonin's, the oil simply relaxed my body ever so slightly—my heart stopped pounding against my chest, my legs stopped kicking beneath my sheets, my mind stopped racing. I wasn't sure if it was the oil or the late hour, but eventually, physical relaxation gave way to mental relaxation, and I drifted off to sleep.
There are concerns that a handful of less-than-reputable companies are tarnishing the industry as a whole. For years, the FDA has been sending warning letters to companies selling CBD while making unsubstantiated health claims. According to the FDA, one company had claimed on its website, “Scientific research by doctors have shown it (CBD) actually kills cancer cells and provides a protective coating around our brain cells.”